- Recent Developments:
- There was no immediate Israeli military comment on the situation at the Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza; The Palestinian news agency says it was hit by artillery fire
- At least 14 Palestinians were killed in two Israeli airstrikes on homes in the southern city of Rafah near the Egyptian border.
GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 20 (Reuters) – At least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded when Israeli tanks surrounded a hospital in northern Gaza, health officials said on Monday. in hostility.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the situation at the Indonesian hospital, where health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza are under fire from Israeli forces, along with 700 patients and staff.
Palestinian news agency WAFA said the facility in the northeastern Gaza city of Beit Lahia was hit by artillery fire. Palestinian health officials said intensive efforts were being made to evacuate civilians.
Hospital staff denied that there were any armed militants on the premises. Israel says its forces in Gaza are targeting “terrorist infrastructure” and accuses Hamas of waging war behind human shields, including hospitals, which the Islamist group denies.
“We had earlier information that tanks had besieged an Indonesian hospital. Unfortunately…, communications there are almost cut off,” Nahed Abu Tama, director of Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, told Reuters.
“We are very worried about the fate of our colleagues and the fate of the injured and the sick and the (displaced) people who are still sheltering there. No ambulances can reach them and we fear that the injured will die,” Abu Tayima said.
Like all other health facilities in northern Gaza, the Indonesian hospital, which was set up in 2016 with funding from Indonesian organizations, has largely ceased operations but is still sheltering patients, staff and displaced residents.
Israel has ordered a full evacuation of the north, but thousands of civilians are still sheltering in hospitals. Israel’s six-week siege has left the entire region running out of fuel and medicine.
Witnesses also reported heavy fighting between Hamas gunmen and Israeli forces as they tried to advance into the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, home to 100,000 people.
Palestinian doctors say Israel’s repeated bombardment of Jabalia, an urban sprawl of Gaza City that grew out of a Palestinian refugee camp from the 1948 Israeli-Arab War, has killed scores of civilians.
At the other end of the Gaza Strip, health officials said at least 14 Palestinians were killed in two Israeli airstrikes on homes in the town of Rafah, near the border with Egypt. Millions of Gazans who fled the north have taken refuge in southern areas, including Rafah.
The Israeli military released a statement with video of airstrikes and troops going door-to-door in Gaza, saying they had killed three Hamas company commanders and a group of Palestinian militants, without giving specific locations.
Despite continued fighting, U.S. and Israeli officials said a Qatar-brokered deal to free some hostages in the Palestinian territory and temporarily halt fighting to provide aid to affected civilians is nearing completion.
About 240 hostages were taken on October 7 during a deadly cross-border attack into Israel by Hamas militants, prompting Israel to occupy the small Palestinian territory to destroy the Islamist movement after several endless wars since 2007.
The Hamas attack killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli calculations, the worst day in Israel’s 75-year history.
Since then, Gaza’s Hamas-run government says incessant Israeli bombardment has killed at least 13,000 Palestinians, including at least 5,500 children.
Two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have become homeless, according to the United Nations.
Israeli tanks and troops entered Gaza late last month, the Israeli military says, capturing swathes of territory north and northwest and east of Gaza City.
But Hamas and local witnesses say the militants are waging a guerrilla-style war in the crowded, urbanized north, including parts of Gaza City and the sprawling Jabaliya and coastal refugee camps.
The armed wing of the militant group Islamic Jihad, a Hamas ally, said its fighters attacked seven Israeli military vehicles during clashes in the northern areas of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and al-Saftawi and the western neighborhoods of Jabalia. Reuters could not independently confirm the fight.
In Beijing, Arab and Muslim ministers joined international calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, allowing their representatives to travel to major world capitals to end the fighting and provide humanitarian aid to affected civilians.
A statement from Gaza’s General Authority for Crossing and Borders said some aid had arrived through the Rafah commercial crossing with Egypt, with 40 trucks carrying equipment for an Emirati field hospital expected soon.
A deal to release the hostages remains hopeful
Even as fighting continues on the ground in Gaza, Michael Herzog, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, told ABC’s “This Week” that Israel hopes Hamas will be able to release a significant number of hostages “in the coming days.”
On Sunday, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told a news conference in Doha that the main obstacles to the deal were now “very minor”, with mainly “practical and logistical” issues remaining.
A White House official said “very complex, very sensitive” negotiations were moving forward.
They coincide with Israel preparing to expand its offensive against Hamas into southern Gaza, signaled by an increase in airstrikes on targets Israel sees as dens of armed militants.
However, the United States, Israel’s main ally, warned on Sunday not to engage in military operations in the south until military planners take into account the safety of Palestinian civilians.
Gaza’s traumatized population has been on the move since the start of the war, staying in hospitals or fleeing from north to south, sometimes in desperate efforts to stay out of the line of fire again.
Additional reporting by Klada Danios and Reuters Bureau by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Mark Heinrich Editing by Peter Graf
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.